The Zimbabwe division of South Africa’s Impala Platinum, Zimplats, is under pressure following a nationalization deal brokered with the government in January. Company officials now have less than a month to appeal a takeover by Harare officials of 50% of their mining claims. Impala Platinum said it is pursuing “legal advice” while consulting “relevant” government officials regarding the transaction, valued at $900 million; Zimbabwe is the world’s second platinum producer and, amid domestic worker unrest, a place top miner South Africa has been eyeing recently.
But the Zimplats deal, brokered by Minister of Youth Development Indigenization and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere, is now under attack by President Robert Mugabe for allowing the state insufficient concessions. “He did not quite understand what was happening … the mineral resource is owned by us,” said Mugabe of Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere told reporters that his officials were addressing the gaps. “It is gathering much more speed,” he said to Johannesburg’s Mail and Guardian. “Our position is very clear that we will not pay for any of the resources.”
Zimplats previously announced that the Zimbabwean government had notified it of intention to appropriate 27,948 hectares of its land, constituting 50% of the South African subsidiary’s mineral claims. The land, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu, would be given to “new investors for the benefit of the public.”
Critics have long noted that inconsistencies in Zimbabwe’s “indigenization program” under Mugabe have undermined his Zanu-PF party’s credibility to consolidate political capital over sustainable and economically feasible mineral extraction.
Over Mugabe’s decades-long rule, the nationalization of private enterprises across sectors has emerged as a signature element of his regime. Accelerating significantly with takeovers of white-owned farms dating to minority-ruled Rhodesia, his policies have been almost universally associated with Zimbabwe’s status as one of sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest nations.